A default judgment is a binding judgment in favour of a party due to an omission or failure to act by the other party. Commonly, it is a judgment in favor of a Plaintiff where the Defendant has not responded to a claim filed by the Plaintiff or has failed to appear before a court of law. Thus, the failure to take action is the default.
One area of the law where default proceedings are most important is in collections matters. A debtor, who is properly served and fails to file the required defence documents within the appropriate time limits, as stipulated by the rules depending on the court, is exposed to receiving an entered default judgment against him/her. Debtors will often disregard filing a defence and responding to either a Notice of Claim or Notice of Civil Claim. Thus, as a creditor, it may be important to act immediately to secure a default judgment and ultimately enforce it.
Actions that involve unpaid debt or damages, which range from $5,000 to $35,000, are in the jurisdiction of small claims and are dealt with by using the forms provided by the Provincial Court of British Columbia’s Small Claims Rules. However, for unpaid debts or damages which exceed $35,000, these claims are governed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia Rules.
If you are the Plaintiff, the default judgment process will depend on the type of claim you have.
- As in most collections-related actions, a Plaintiff will have a claim for a liquidated amount, which can be entered as a final judgment and eventually a Plaintiff can proceed to enforce that judgment. In Busnex Business Exchange Ltd. v. Canadian Medical Legacy Corp., 1999 BCCA 7 the courts defined “Liquidated amount” as a sum that may be determined “as a mere matter of arithmetic”.
- Claims for non-liquidated amounts, which may include claims for non-pecuniary, punitive, aggravated, or general damages, the Plaintiff will need to go through additional steps by going to court to argue the quantum.
- You may have a claim for a detention of goods by the Defendant. For example, The Defendant may have failed to return a valuable piece of property that belongs to you. In these circumstances, you can either ask the court to enter judgment ordering the Defendant to deliver the property to you, or you can ask the court for judgment in your favour for the value of the property, with the amount to be assessed at a later hearing.
Enforcing or setting aside a default judgment can be a difficult process. Our team at Origin Law Group can help make the process as smooth as possible. We would be happy to assist you in your civil dispute. Give us a call if you have any questions or would like to learn more about our services. 604 265 8400